Trump shows optimism in US-China trade talks, though few details revealed

World Today

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 1, 2018. President Xi attended a working dinner with President Trump in Buenos Aires on Saturday. (Xinhua/Li Xueren)

Despite few details being revealed in the wake of a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jingping, Trump continues to tout the headway made in the trade tensions between the two nations.

The working dinner, which happened on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina, most notably produced a pause on U.S. tariff hikes against China for 90 days, in an effort to give trade negotiations a chance.

There were scheduled tariff increases from 10 percent to 25 percent set to take effect on January 1, 2019. In return for the pause, the Chinese would purchase a “very substantial” amount “of agricultural, energy, industrial, and other product from the United States,” according to a statement released by the White House following the meeting.

However, few details have emerged from either the U.S. or China about the trade agreements reached in Argentina.

China has also discussed few details following the meeting in Argentina. In a press briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang repeated that the U.S. and China “reached a consensus and agreed to stop adding new tariffs.”

“In accordance with the consensus reached by the two heads of state,” the two countries will “step in the direction of canceling all tariff increases, intensify consultations, and strive to reach a mutually beneficial and win-win agreement to push the economic and trade relations between the two sides back to normal track as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, Trump indicated that the “negotiations with China have already started,” but did not offer much else, aside from reiterating that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will be the lead negotiator on the trade talks. Lighthizer will be working with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Trade Adviser to Trump, Peter Navarro.

Just hours after Kudlow told reporters that Trump “wants a world of zero tariffs and zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies,” the U.S. president tweeted about how he is a “Tariff man.”

Trump on Monday tweeted that “relations with China have taken a big leap forward” after Beijing agreed to cut the 40 percent import tariff on American-made cars. Yet, there is still no confirmation from Beijing about the 40 percent tariffs that China has imposed since July on all U.S. car and car part exports.